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Grant funds remaining Brundidge library work

BRUNDIDGE – After waiting for more than two months to hear a response, Brundidge officials learned Friday they received a $123,600 USDA grant to complete an addition to the Tupper Lightfoot Memorial Library.

“It’s a long time coming,” said City Manager Britt Thomas. “That’s wonderful news for the library. This grant means we’ll be able to finish it up.”

The grant is part of $15 million in Recovery Act funding announced Friday by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilscack. The funding, which includes a combination of guaranteed loans and grants, will create jobs by building and enhancing libraries in 129 rural communities in 30 different states. It is being provided through the USDA Rural Development’s Community Facilities Program.

“Libraries are the centerpiece of rural community life, but in many cases they need additional funding to provide rural residents with computer access, modern equipment and new training and educational opportunities,” Vilsack said. “These Recovery Act investments in our nation’s libraries will serve rural America for generations to come.”

The Brundidge grant is one of two awarded in the state of Alabama. The other is $180,000 to the City of Uniontown.

In Brundidge, the library has been undergoing a renovation and addition project that, with this grant, will total $413,600. The project includes the renovation of the existing library space and an addition to expand the library.

“We’ve received a $150,000 grant from the state for this project as well as a $40,000 grant from the Alabama Public Library Service,” Thomas said. “The city put in $100,000.”

And, while this USDA grant does require a $40,000 match, Thomas said federal officials will allow previously received funds to be counted as the match.

“So, basically, the only cost to our taxpayers has been $100,000,” he said.

This grant will allow the completion of the project, which includes purchase of shelving, furnishings and computers.

“We are excited to get these funds from the USDA,” said Jimmy Ramage, Brundidge mayor. “We appreciate the assistance of the USDA Area Office in Dothan in the grant preparation. This will allow the city to complete our library project with all the necessary items we will need.  The citizens of Brundidge will have a great community library.”

Vilsack, speaking in a conference call to announce the grants, stressed the importance of funding the library grants.

“We have two main goals: One, to put Americans back to work immediately … We expect to employ hundreds of people through these projects,” he said. “Two, to lay the groundwork for sustainable economic growth in these communities.”

Partnering with his wife, who was a champion of public libraries as first lady of Iowa, Vilsack talked about the importance of the public library in a rural community, particularly those communities served by these grants which have 20,000 or fewer residents.

“I think, frankly, when you invest in a library what you’re saying to the townspeople is that you believe in the future of that community,” he said.

Thomas would agree. “We’re very proud of our library, and our library is utilized a tremendous amount … it’s amazing to me how much it is utilized,” Thomas said.